Skip Navigation


Agricultural Review

Now is the time to evaluate nitrogen needs of wheat

Now is the time for farmers to be thinking about nitrogen fertilization of wheat. The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services reminds growers to watch their crop closely and be ready to collect tissue samples at the appropriate stage of growth. A tissue test is the only reliable way to determine the correct amount of nitrogen to apply.

Tissue samples should be taken when wheat reaches Zadoks growth stage 30 (or the equivalent Feekes 4-5 stage). Check the growth stage by digging up a plant and slicing it down the middle. If the distance from the bottom of the plant to the top of the seed head is one-half inch, then it is time to submit a tissue sample to the NCDA&CS Agronomic Division laboratory.

To take a sample, use a pair of clippers or a sharp knife and collect the entire above-ground portion of the plant. Cut or clip the leaves about a half-inch above the ground to minimize soil particles clinging to the tissue. Also remove any dead tissue. A good sample consists of two handfuls of wheat plants collected randomly from 15 to 20 places throughout a field. The tissue sampling process is depicted online at

Put the sample in a paper bag or plant tissue envelope provided by NCDA&CS. Do not use plastic bags. Fill out the Plant Sample Information sheet, and be sure to write down the exact Zadoks, or Feekes, growth stage. Ship the sample(s) along with the completed Plant Sample Information sheet(s) and appropriate processing fee to the NCDA&CS laboratory.

The NCDA&CS Agronomic Division processes tissue samples within three days of their arrival at the lab. The quickest way to get test results is to visit the division's Web site,, and select "Find Your Report" on the left side of the page. Reports are also mailed to growers and their advisers.

For additional information or assistance, contact your NCDA&CS regional agronomist. To find the regional agronomist assigned to your area, visit, or call Kent Messick at (919) 733-2655.

NCDA&CS Public Affairs Division, Andrea Ashby, Director
Mailing Address:1001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1001
Physical Address: 2 West Edenton Street, Raleigh NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3001; FAX: (919) 733-5047

How can we make this page better for you?
Contact the NCDA&CS

Found a bug? Have a suggestion? Fill out the form below and we'll take a look!

Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Question or Comments:

Back to top

Get Email Alerts

Stay up to date with NCDA&CS. Sign up to receive the latest news and upcoming events via email.